I met Paul the first day I moved into the neighborhood. I was unloading the truck by myself and a burly fellow walked across the street and introduced himself as Paul; he asked if I needed any help unloading. I did, but Paul was wearing some kind of brace under his shirt. “No,” he said, “it’s not a back brace; it’s for something else.” After he helped me get the washer and dryer in the basement, we chatted briefly. I complimented him on his front yard garden; in addition to quantities of the normal vegetables, he had a peach tree with peaches on it. I had seen these in Georgia, I told him, but never so far north. We also talked about the heat and the growing season here. It used to be better, Paul said, but lately the weather had become increasingly erratic, with unnatural hot spells, even during the winter, and late freezes. Continue reading
I had to learn how to love. I had to work at it—paying attention to what made me feel happy and what didn’t. There were so many mistakes. It took 60 years, which seems like a long time, and I think I was lucky in the people I knew along the way.
This is the big question I have: We have an idea that is so nearly beyond doubt, in this case that to learn to love is what makes you happy, but we don’t act on it, we don’t implement it. Nobody doubts it. I should say that nobody who understands it doubts it. And that’s the question. Why is such an important and basic idea not a fundamental part of human education and culture: how to love.
Obviously, people should begin to learn to love at home. And then they should learn in church (by “church” I mean, “spiritual activity.”) But what if for some reason they don’t? I agree, they should learn at home and in church. But what if somehow they don’t? I do believe that some people learn abuse and bigotry at home and at church. Shouldn’t learning to love just be everywhere anyway? Shouldn’t it be about the most basic thing there is? Are the people who don’t learn it in family or church just screwed? That seems like a lot of people.
The conversations in a pot store, or recreational cannabis dispensary, are fascinating. People in Colorado pot stores are talking about very subtle variations in their consciousness and experience, associated with different forms and strains of cannabis. They are doing very comfortably what philosophers call phenomenology, examination of the structure and nature of consciousness and experience. It’s usually a pretty hard thing to get across in class but these people are naturals. Allen Ginsberg certainly understood too. In 1966 he wrote that “the marijuana consciousness gently shifts one’s attention…to sensing phenomena.” And then his 1977 his book Mind Breaths Ginsberg explicitly associated the creation of poetry with the observation of consciousness as practiced in Buddhist meditation. Continue reading